Falmouth the familiar king of the hill
They´ve had races postponed because of warmth: 60 degrees and mush.
They´ve had races postponed because of cold: too frigid to open the lifts.
But when the Western Maine Conference championship races were held last week at Shawnee Peak, the Falmouth boys were back in their familiar position -- first -- with the type of depth that causes Coach Tip Kimball to scratch his head as he attempts to choose his entries for next week´s state championships.
"It´s a tough call," said Kimball, who selected his six slalom and six giant slalom entries Wednesday before the season´s final two regular-season meets Thursday and Friday. "Although I have a system and I keep track of their points for the season, we really haven´t had that many races to draw from. It seems like the weather has thrown us a real curveball."
At last week´s WMC championships, Falmouth was the only team among eight competing to finish in double figures, with 49 points. Cape Elizabeth and Yarmouth tied for second with 103, and Greely edged Freeport for fourth, 138-139.
Falmouth freshman Dev Thomas won the slalom but failed to finish the giant slalom after missing a gate near the bottom of his second run. Alex Gowen finished second in both races. Joe Lesniak, Cooper Lycan and Ben Hilfrank each placed among the top 10, and Luke Andrews was 16th in giant slalom.
Thomas put down the fastest time in the first run of the giant slalom. His veteran teammates let him know that skiing off course instead of hiking back after missing a gate isn´t acceptable next week, when the Class A state title is on the line.
"We have a rule," Kimball said. "You must hike so they at least get a finish. When you are racing individually in USSA (competition), if you fall, you´re done. You just get up and ski away. In high school team racing, that´s considered a DNF."
Kimball reminds his team of the year Pat Sage, Falmouth´s fastest skier, hiked after a fall and managed to finish far below his usual standing. "Lo and behold, we had to use his score and we won the event only by a point or two," Kimball said.
The Yachtsmen are looking to erase memories of last year´s meltdown in the Class A slalom, when Mt. Blue overcame a 21-point deficit to win the Alpine title after four Falmouth skiers fell on their first run. It remains the only loss in three years for the Falmouth boys, who will try again for the Class A crown Tuesday and Wednesday at Mt. Abram.
THE MOST IMPRESSIVE thing about Merriconeag´s sweep of the WMC Nordic titles -- the girls edged Yarmouth by a point and the boys won by 16 -- is that the small Waldorf school based in New Gloucester did so without standout Zoe Chace-Donahue skiing in Tuesday´s classical race at Stark´s Hill because of illness.
Emelie Chace-Donahue and Samantha Pierce each finished among the top five, and Teagan Wu and Carlin Tindall moved up eight and 10 places, respectively, from how they finished in last week´s freestyle race.
"Those two had to be having a good day for the girls to prevail," Coach John Tarling said. "And they did."
Merriconeag´s boys overcame an 11-point deficit after freestyle to beat perennial powers Yarmouth and Falmouth. Ben Tindall, Graham Roeber, Jack Pierce, John Burgess and Zach Neveu all finished among the top 15 in classical.
"This is a small school and they´re pretty into the sport," Tarling said. "So they were pumped."
JOINING FALMOUTH in a search for redemption are the Greely girls, who coughed up a 14-point lead to Mt. Blue in last February´s Class A state meet. The Rangers are also coming off a big victory in the WMC championships, amassing a mere 40 points to runner-up Fryeburg Academy´s 104. Yarmouth nipped Falmouth for third, 130-132, with Freeport (148) finishing fifth.
Elyse Dinan, the two-time Class A skimeister, led a 1-2-3-6 finish in slalom, along with Jordan Ouellette, Teal Otley and Jill Booth. Freshman Kelsey Otley placed third in the giant slalom, with Ouellette eighth and Booth 16th.
"It shouldn´t have even been close," said Greely Coach Mark Ouellette of last year´s Alpine meet, which included falls by his top two skiers in the slalom. Since then, "I haven´t talked about it once."
ONCE AGAIN, the slalom will dcide not only the Alpine title but the overall crown. Last year the schedule was born of necessity as organizers tried to accommodate both Alpine and Nordic events at Black Mountain.
"The feedback from coaches was positive," said Yarmouth Principal Ted Hall, a member of the MPA ski committee, "especially from schools that only had a Nordic or only had an Alpine squad. They didn´t require an extra night of lodging."
This year, Day 1 is classical, Day 2 is giant slalom and freestyle and Day 3 is slalom. For next year, Hall said, the committee will recommend holding the Nordic state meets during the first two days of February break and the Alpine state meets the Friday and Saturday of the following week, thus requiring only one missed day of classes.
That move also would bring mountains such as Sunday River, Sugarloaf and Shawnee Peak into the mix. Hall said all three expressed interest in making a bid to host at a time other than during the busy school vacation week.
Staff Writer Glenn Jordan can be contacted at 791-6425 or at:
SKIERS OF THE WEEK
Elyse Dinan, Greely junior: Swept the Western Maine Conference giant slalom and slalom titles with the fastest time in all four runs at Shawnee Peak. The two-time Class A skimeister, focusing on Alpine this winter, led Greely to a 64-point victory over Falmouth.
Emelie Chace-Donahue, Merriconeag senior: Runner-up in both freestyle and classic to lead Merriconeag to a one-point victory over Yarmouth for the WMC Nordic championship.
Keaton McEvoy, Gray-New Gloucester freshman: Won the WMC skimeister title by 32 points after finishing 17th in slalom, 24th in giant slalom, 29th in classic and 32nd in freestyle.
Silas Eastman, Fryeburg senior: Swept the Western Maine Conference freestyle and classic titles by just under a minute in skate and more than a minute in classic. It marked his third straight WMC classic title and second freestyle.
Alex Gowen, Falmouth senior: Runner-up in both slalom and giant slalom to lead Falmouth to a 54-point victory in the WMC Alpine championships at Shawnee Peak.
Eric Wilcox, Gray-New Gloucester sophomore: Won the WMC skimeister title by 80 points after finishing 14th in giant slalom, 17th in both slalom and freestyle, and 34th in classic.